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Sunday's matchup in Minneapolis agains the Green Bay Packers is a pivotal one for the Minnesota Vikings' playoff hopes. With a win, the Vikings can get a leg up in the pillow fight for the NFC's final playoff spot and possibly claw their way back toward a division title. But at 8-2, the Packers will be looking to take a step toward the top seed in the conference.

This border battle is always unpredictable, but here are five things you can count on when the Vikings meet the Packers at noon Sunday. 

1. A big day for Adam Thielen

Everyone is excited about Mike Zimmer's epiphany to throw the ball to Justin Jefferson but it feels like Adam Thielen has been lost in the shuffle.

While Jefferson had nine catches for 143 yards last weeek, Thielen had just five catches for 65 yards. It wasn't a bad day but with the Chargers playing just one high safety, there was room for more.

Every team is going to give Jefferson attention but Thielen could go under the radar against the Packers. That could create opportunities and allow him to take the lead on Sunday. 

2. A lot of ground and pound

Many would hope last week's game would encourage the Vikings to run the ball more but doing so would play into the teeth of the Packers' defense.

Green Bay ranks eighth against the pass in Football Outsider's defensive DVOA metric but is just 24th against the run. While that doesn't mean the Vikings should completely abandon the pass, it does mean that giving the ball to Dalvin Cook is a key to success.

But the same thing is true for the Packers. Aaron Jones will miss Sunday's game due to a knee injury paving the way for AJ Dillion to be the lead back. With quads the size of Eddie Lacy's waistline, Dillon could rip through a Vikings defense that allows 4.7 yards per carry -- the third-highest clip in the NFL.

3. Kirk Cousins under pressure

For all the positives the Vikings produced last week, the offensive line remains a problem. Kirk Cousins was under pressure on 45 percent of his dropbacks against the Chargers but appears they're making one move to amend the situation.

According to SKOR North's Phil Mackey, Mason Cole will start over Garrett Bradbury on Sunday. While Bradbury was activated off the COVID list earlier this week, Mackey reports the move is being made for non-health reasons.

In two starts this season, Cole has allowed four pressures but also allowed three last week. It still should be an upgrade over Bradbury, who led all offensive linemen with 18 pressures through eight games.

The bigger question will be what happens with Oli Udoh. Although he ranks 13th among guards with 24 pressures allowed, he's third among all offensive linemen with nine penalties and three more that were declined.

Whatever upgrades are made, the Vikings will have to stop the Packers defense, which generated a 45.8% pressure rate against Russell Wilson last week.

4. Aaron Rodgers picking his spots

Patrick Peterson is expected to return after missing the past three games with a hamstring injury but the Vikings will still have a tall task defending their greatest foe.

Peterson should be able to hold his own against Davante Adams but that doesn't cover up the struggles of Bashaud Breeland. Breeland comes into Sunday's game with the 12th lowest PFF grade and his 115.3 passer rating allowed is 10th worst among qualifying corners.

The Vikings also have issues along the defensive line with D.J. Wonnum landing on the COVID list. With Danielle Hunter out for the year and the interior being non-existent, getting pressure on Rodgers will be a challenge, who has the highest passer rating in the NFL (120.5) when kept clean.

Rodgers hasn't practiced all week due to a toe injury and has the fourth-lowest average depth of target (7.2) since Week 4. But if the Vikings can't improve in the secondary or generate pressure, he could have an opportunistic game.

5. A regression to the mean

Last week's win made many believe that all that was wrong with the Vikings has been fixed but there are many issues that still exist.

On the final drive against the Chargers, the Vikings shot themselves in the foot with holding penalties, ran on second-and-long twice but were able to bail themselves out with a rare spurt of aggression. This got them the win but the bigger question is can they do it again?

The Packers defense is rolling, allowing a league-low 11.6 points per game over the past five weeks. They'll likely play Cover 2 to defend Thielen and Jefferson, potentially taking them out of the gam

If Cousins is pressured, there's a good chance we could see the same team we've seen for the majority of the season. That would bring them back to mediocrity and create more questions for the future.

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